The Foundations of Irish Culture AD 600-850

The Foundations of Irish Culture AD 600-850

Funded by: HEA (Higher Education Authority), NDP (National Development Plan), EU (European Union).

Publications for this project...


Professor Dáibhí Ó CróinínProject Leader
Dr. Eric GraffPostdoctoral researcher
Dr. Mark StansburyPostdoctoral researcher
Mr. Pádraic MoranPostgraduate researcher


Convenor: Prof. Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Department of History

Irish Manuscripts on the Continent, AD 600-AD 850

A great deal that has been written about Irish culture in the period ad 600-850 has been touched by the Romantic views of the 19th century, which saw Ireland as a lone beacon of knowledge shining out during Europe's 'Dark Ages'. That view has been most recently expounded in the book by Thomas Cahill, How Ireland saved civilization (1995), which proposed to demonstrate how 'the great heritage of western civilization ... would have been utterly lost were it not for the holy men and women of the unconquered Ireland'.

It is a curious fact, however, that scholarly research on this topic has been conducted almost exclusively outside Ireland. Our current knowledge of Hiberno-Latin and Hiberno-Greek (and also the medieval Irish knowledge of Hebrew) is derived from the work of scholars in continental European countries, as well as Canada and the United States. While this is a very positive affirmation of the importance that such research is felt to have in these countries, it is nevertheless extraordinary that research of this kind on this subject has been almost entirely neglected in this country. These Projects will seek to establish a platform on which native scholarship can match that of our colleagues abroad.

Prof. C. Luibhéid, Prof. J. Madden, Prof. B. Arkins, Prof. M. Ní Dhonnchadha, Prof. A. Ahlqvist, Dr D. Ó hAodha, Dr K. LoPrete, Prof. M. Ferrari, Dr B. Ebersperger, Prof. M. Folkerts, Dr D. Howlett, Dr A. Harvey

Irish Scientific Texts in Latin, AD 600-850

This project will survey the evidence of scientific learning as it was acquired and disseminated by the Irish between 600 and 850 AD. Beginning with detailed palaeographical and codicological studies of the available manuscripts, this project will establish the textual traditions relevant to the disciplines included in the Quadrivium: Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy and Music. With a particular emphasis on texts related to the Computus, the science of reckoning time, a new catalogue of manuscript resources will record the wealth of material from this 'golden age' of Irish learning. PRA 8.2 will also undertake the publication of a corpus of critical editions as part of the RIA/Brepols Scriptores Celtigenae Project for the publication of Hiberno-Latin texts.

History, Ancient Classics, Old Irish NUI, Galway; University of Munich; Osservatorio Astronomico, Milan; British Academy, Oxford; Royal Irish Academy, Dublin; Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University.

Laser-based Profilometry of Medieval Irish Monuments

It is now generally recognised that a very large number of the surviving national monuments in this country are at ever-increasing risk of severe and permanent damage from car exhaust emissions and other atmospheric pollutants (as well as from the 'normal' wear-and-tear suffered by any stone surface which is exposed to the elements). Unfortunately, that realisation has come very late (too late, in some instances), and the resultant deterioration of the surface detail on many of our most famous monuments has been near-catastrophic (e.g., on the intricate carvings of the doorways at Clonfert cathedral, Co. Galway, and at Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, and on many of the high-crosses). Our joint project seeks to unite the two approaches of state-of-the-art, 3-D imaging and traditional archaeological/art historical analysis and to combine them in a digital technology-based system which can be used to restore lost inscriptions and carved details of inscribed monuments.

Prof. M. Redfern, Prof. D. Ó Cróinín, Prof. J. Waddell, Dr C. Newman, Dr E. Okasha

Publications from this project

Stansbury, M. McDonough, C. & Prior, R. 2004, Servius' Commentary on Book Four of Virgil's Aeneid: An Annotated Translation, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers.

Stansbury, M., ‘J.W. Halporn and M. Vessey, Cassiodorus. Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning. On the Soul, Translated Texts for Historians 42[Review], forthcoming in Ancient History Bulletin, Liverpool.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, Early Irish History and Chronology Dublin, Four Courts Press.

Ó Cróinín, D. Palaeography: scripts and their derivation; abbreviations; notae iuris; Tironian notae; history; the earlies Insular manuscripts; relationship with antiquity, Britain, and western mainland European

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'The Echternach manuscripts', History of the Irish Book Project.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'Boniface Gospels: Fulda, Lanesb, Bonif. 3', History of the Irish Book Project.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'Würzburg, Universitätsb, M. ch. F. 206', History of the Irish Book Project. Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'The Computus: Texts and Transmission', History of the Irish Book Project.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'The Writings of Cummianus Longus al. Cummian al. Cuimmíne Fota', History of the Irish Book Project.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'Codex Sancti Pauli: Unterdrauberg, Carinthia, Kloster S. Pauli, 25.2.31 olim 25.d.86', History of the Irish Book Project.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'Epistola Cyrilli', History of the Irish Book Project.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'De ratione temporum', History of the Irish Book Project.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'Cummian, De controversia paschali ', History of the Irish Book Project.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'De ratione computandi', History of the Irish Book Project.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'Sinlanus/Mo-Sinnu (moccu Min)', Dictionary of Irish Biography.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'Vergilius of Echternach', Dictionary of Irish Biography.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'Virgilius Maro Grammaticus', Dictionary of Irish Biography.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, 'Willibrord of Rath melsigi', Dictionary of Irish Biography.

Graff, E. 2005, ‘The thirteenth figure in the Munich Computus Zodiac', Journal for the History of Astronomy, vol. XXXVI, pp. 321-334.

Graff, E. & Stansbury, M. 2003-4, ‘M. Herity and A. Breen, ‘The Cathach of Colum Cille: An Introduction [Review]', in Peritia, vols. 17-18.

Warntjes, I. 2004, ‘Regnal succession in early medieval Ireland', Journal of Medieval History, vol. 30 pp.377-410.

D. McCarthy and A. Breen, The Ante-Nicene Christian Pasch, De ratione paschali: The Paschal Tract of Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicea (Dublin, Four Courts Press), 2003.

Stansbury, M., & Graff E. 2003-4, ‘M. Herity and A. Breen, ‘The Cathach of Colum Cille: An Introduction[Review]', in Peritia,vols. 17-18.

Stansbury, M., ‘G.A. Müller, Formen und Funktionen der Vergilzitate und -anspielungen bei Augustin von Hippo. Formen und Funktionen der Zitate und Anspielungen[Review]. (Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur des Altertums. Neue Folge. 1. Reihe, Band 18.) in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.3.38, Ferdinand Schöningh.

Stansbury, M. 2002, ‘Roman Vergil and the Origins of Medieval Book Design', The Medieval Review 03.05.13, Online Review, University of Toronto

Graff, E. 2002, ‘A Primitive Text of Periphyseon V Rediscovered: The Witness of the Clavis Physice of Honorius Augustodunesis', Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie médiévales, LXIX.2, pp. 271-295.

Moran, P. 2004, 'Electronic Bibliography of Irish Linguistics and Literature 1942-71[Review]', website and CD-Rom in Peritia, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

Stansbury, M., ‘Columba and the Power of Writing' forthcoming in proceedings of in E. Johnston (ed.) the Lives and Afterlives III Conference(Boydell and Brewer).

Stansbury, M., Translations of two commentaries and articles on Pompeian graffiti and Old Irish glosses forthcoming in M. Putman and J. Ziolkowski (ed.) The Virgilian tradition to 1500, Yale University Press.

Stansbury, M., ‘The Composition of Adomnán's Vita Columbae', Peritia, vols. 17-18, pp. 154-82. Stansbury, M. 2004, ‘L. Long, ‘Translating the Bible: From the 7th to the 17th Century[Review]', in Speculum, vol. 79 pp. 235-236.

Stansbury, M., ‘D. Wright, The Roman Vergil and the Origins of Medieval Book Design[Review]', in The Medieval Review 03.05.13

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, ‘Writing', in W. Davies (ed.), From the Vikings to the Normans. Short Oxford History of the British Isles, Oxford University Press, vol. 3, pp. 169-200.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2002, ‘An Eriugenian miscellany in a Munich manuscript?', Peritia, vol. 16, pp. 242-249.

Ó Cróinín, D. 2003, Eachtra Phinocchio. Revised ed. Of 1933 publication (with S. Ua Súilleabháin) pp.142.

Warntjes, I. 2004, ‘The Alternation of the Kingship of Tara between 734 and 944', Peritia: Journal of the Medieval Academy of Ireland. vol. 17-18, pp. 394-432.

Warntjes, I. 2005, ‘A newly discovered Irish computus: Computus Einsidlensis', Peritia vol. 19, pp. 61-64.